Story and photos by Ellen Cedergreen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
They are walking/running to raise money for Northwest Hope and Healing‘s work, helping breast-cancer patients.
Carol knows what that’s like. She is not your average marathon runner. Completing more than 250 marathons is a feat in and of itself, but the 49-year-old Spokane resident has an even bigger claim to fame: She’s a breast-cancer survivor, and she completed her 235th marathon just 9 weeks after undergoing a mastectomy. Since then, she’s completed 8 more, bringing her grand total to 253, 254 after next weekend. We talked with her at West Seattle Runner (WSB sponsor), shortly after she arrived in Seattle this afternoon for the Alki Beach 5K (9 am Sunday morning – and you can still register in person at the Bathhouse, starting at 8).
Dellinger lost her mom to breast cancer 25 years ago and has other family members who’ve battled the disease. She’s a firm believer in early detection and has been getting annual mammograms since the age of 35. According to her cancer treatment center, many age-eligible women do not get mammograms, often due to fear, but Dellinger wants to remind women that breast cancer can be100% curable if discovered early.
Dellinger chose not to have reconstructive surgery after learning her cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes.
“Everybody’s different but I want to look at my body every day and I’m proud of that 14 inch scar across my chest,” she explained. The reconstruction would have also lengthened her recovery, considerably cutting into her running time. She couldn’t wait to get going again and even ran with her drainage tubes still in, just a few weeks after the surgery. After her 8-week checkup, her doctor gave her the green light to go ahead and start running again full time. “I already am,” Dellinger said.
She’s been an athlete for as long as she can remember, playing three sports in high school, college basketball, semi-pro softball; and a marathon runner since her late twenties. “I really believe being an athlete lets me meet life’s challenges head on … An athlete can really go down and dig deep and become stronger inside themselves.” Dellinger believes cancer is non-discriminating. Even healthy people can get it. But she wants people to know that being an athlete can help you beat it. That is why she also tours as a motivational speaker. “I want people to get off their couch,” she says.
Dellinger wants everyone to hear it again: “With early detection, breast cancer can be 100% curable.” She is a spokesperson for her cancer center in Spokane and is also a motivational speaker. That’s why she chose to run the Alki 5k in support of NW Hope and Healing.
(NWHH volunteers with the T-shirt you’ll get for participating in Sunday’s Alki Beach 5K)
“It takes a team of people to get people through breast cancer. Running was there for me, to get me through… and NW Hope and Healing is there to guide and support women who have gone through breast cancer. It’s a wonderful organization.”
NW Hope and Healing has carried messages of “love, life, and hope” to more than 5,200 cancer patients, and the foundation has provided financial assistance for more than 1,300 patients. Run a beautiful course in beautiful weather on Sunday morning (Alki SW will be closed to Anchor/Luna Park for the occasion, from about 8-11 am), and underscore that message.
NW Hope and Healing volunteers give us a sneak peek at tomorrow’s race t-shirts
Breast cancer survivor Carol Dellinger has completed 9 marathons since her mastectomy 15 months ago. She is in town for the Alki 5k in support of NW Hope and Healing.